Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
It seems to me that the issue with translation isn't so much conflating the signified and signifier, but the understanding of the referent we have that enables us to translate, for example, apple into pomme. So apple and pomme may not be absolutely the same, but if you want an apple in France and say pomme to the waiter you may get what you want. That transcendent-enough understanding of the referent (a somewhat transcendent signified) made the translation functional.
Or I guess we could say that if we really did conflate the signified (or referent) apple with apple, translation wouldn't be possible; we'd just keep saying apple in France and get rude looks. When we don't conflate the two, a somewhat transcendent signified of the referent apple becomes possible and enables us to express it well-enough in another language.
A pronoun in an anaphoric reference usually refers back to a noun used previously in the sentence or an immediately preceding sentence.
For instance, in the following sentence....
"That the AQAL Man story is a silly cartoon doesn't prevent it from it from genuinely inspiring others or giving them insights"
... what does the "it" refer to? It refers to "the AQAL Man story."
I think the sentence by Derrida follows the same structure:
"That this opposition or difference cannot be radical or absolute does not prevent it from functioning."
The "it" refers back to "this opposition or difference." At least, I think that is the most straightforward reading.
However, the fact that you and I (and apparently Wilber and Desilet) are reading this sentence possibly somewhat differently -- contextualizing it differently -- is exactly what Derrida is talking about when he talks about the ambiguity (though not impossibility) of translation. This, in my understanding, has long been his view (basing my opinion, here, on my reading of Of Grammatology years ago); I don't think this "impure difference" (in distinction from a radical, wholly pure transcendental difference) is new to Positions.
Yes, I don't mind "it" referring to "this opposition or difference." I was saying that that is what it was referring to. So if the opposition or difference is radical and absolute, we have a transcendental signified as the representationalists envisioned it. But the opposition or difference isn't radical or absolute (isn't absolutely transcendent), but still transcendent enough to enable translation (so he recognizes a partial truth in the transcendental signified and calls translation "transformation").
Yes, this "somewhat-transcendent" framing (which is what Derrida implies when he uses the word, 'impure' -- interdependent and somewhat interpenetrating, i.e., 'not one, not two') is, I believe, one of Derrida's main insights (which, as I said -- and theurj or someone else may have to correct me here -- predates Positions.)
As I think you are saying, Wilber also (with his enactive "multiple object" orientation) likely means something like "quasi-transcendent," rather than transcendent. Derrida pulls the transcendent down out of a single locale in an absolute, radically divorced and independent position, and instead weaves "transcendence" through all things, as the quasi-transcendence of signifieds and objects.
In other words, while I agree with you that "it" refers to "this opposition and difference," I think "this opposition and difference" refers to the transcendental signified (though he was only accepting it partially).
Okay, I think we're probably close enough here. :-) I think that to say that Derrida now admits to a "transcendental signified" is a little misleading on Wilber's part, since I believe Derrida's point about ambiguous, non-radical, but nevertheless still real difference is one he has articulated in a number of his books and is a key aspect of his notion of differance; but at the same time, I think this very notion does recognize a partial truth in the older notion of the transcendental signified and recontextualizes it (as quasi-transcendentality, so-to-speak).
Yes, he was stating it too bluntly, in a way that could easily be misinterpreted. Wilber and Derrida might be close after that point as well. Wilber has his local, relative aspects, so there are always differences. But whether or not Derrida said this or meant this is a side issue, anyway; I have always been meaning to say that. We agree that there are some common contexts, I think, which is the important thing, and differences as well.
And it's nice to come to some agreement on this after all these years. :) It's pretty difficult to puzzle out, that passage of Positions. For some reason it took a while just to come up with it that Wilber was talking about a partial truth of the transcendental signified.
Yes, I was feeling some pleasure about that as well. :-)
One of the difficult things to reconcile seems to have been that for Derrida "transcendental signified" mostly meant the purely representational version of the phrase (and perhaps for Desilet it meant only that), while for Wilber it mostly meant honoring it as a partial truth. So Wilber kept the phrase but only included it as a partial truth, but Derrida dropped the phrase in favor of "transformation" but kept or finally admitted to the partial truth.
So the "opposition or difference" makes room for the partial truth in the transcendental signifier, does that sound right?
Derrida's "sliding chain of signifiers" is like "nothing outside the text" with no opposition or difference between signified and signifier, and then some opposition between signified and signifier is reintroduced, and that opposition or difference makes room for something transcendent. Does that sound right?
Hi, David -- I'm not sure. I don't think Derrida ever wholly collapsed signifier and signified or posited that there was no opposition or difference between them. But theurj or Desilet could better answer this than me.